Retired farmer makes quilts for MCCBy Gladys Terichow Mennonite Central Committee
NIVERVILLE, Man. — Cornelius Harder retired from farming many years ago, but as he approaches his 92nd birthday he maintains the work ethic of his youth.
The work that keeps him busy these days is making patchwork blankets for Mennonite Central Committee.
“I don’t make anything fancy, but they are warm,” Harder said. “I’ve got another 20 that are ready to go to MCC.”
Harder started making blankets for MCC in 1994. Over the years he has made more than 2,000 blankets, which have been distributed to people experiencing poverty, war and disasters in many countries.
Until three years ago he made each blanket from scratch — selecting the fabric, cutting quilt blocks, creating a design, sewing the blocks together and securing the blanket with hand-tied knots.
He still cuts fabric into quilt blocks, but in recent years he picks up as many bags of pre-cut patches as he can from MCC’s material resource center in Winnipeg. This fabric is donated and cut into patches by volunteers.
Harder moved to Winnipeg in 1988 with his wife, Agnes, who died in 2007. In 2009 Harder moved into the NCU manor, a residential facility for seniors in Niverville.
“After retirement, I couldn’t sit around. I still can’t,” Harder said. “I have good eyesight. I can read whenever I want to read. I’m thankful for that, but I don’t have time to read; I have to work.”
Agnes Harder had spent countless hours making items for MCC’s newborn kits, he said. That inspired him to buy a sewing machine for $15 and start making blankets.
His only experience with sewing was his childhood fascination with his mother’s Singer treadle sewing machine.
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